Tag Archives: blood pressure

Olive Oil Decreases Blood Pressure in Young Women

August is designated as National Olive Oil Month, and today’s post is the second in recognition of this healthy food. Today we examine the effect of a polyphenol-rich olive oil on blood pressure and the markers of inflammation in young women.

A group of researchers from Spain performed a double blind, randomized dietary intervention trial, to examine the effects of a polyphenol-rich olive oil diet on blood pressure, as well as markers of endothelial function and oxidative stress. The subject group was young women (average age 26 years) who had recently been diagnosed with either high-normal blood pressure, or Stage 1 hypertension.

The subjects began with a four month run-in period, during which a set Mediterranean-style diet was provided to all the participants to follow. After the four month run-in, the women were randomized to either a polyphenol-rich olive oil diet, or a polyphenol-poor olive oil diet, which was then followed for two months. After two months there was a 4 week wash out period, after which the groups were reversed and followed for an additional two months. While in the polyphenol-rich group, participants consumed about 30 mg/day of polyphenols from olive oil. 24 women completed the study.

The researchers discovered that the polyphenol-rich diet let to a significant decrease in both systolic (7.91 mm Hg) and diastolic (6.65 mm Hg) blood pressures. In addition, markers of oxidative stress (ADMA, ox-LDL) and inflammation (CRP) were significantly reduced.

The drop in blood pressure seen with the polyphenol-rich diet is profound, in that it is comparable to the drops in blood pressure one might see with some of the first line anti-hypertensive medications.

This study is important in that it studies a dietary intervention in women, a group that is often underrepresented in medical research. Also, this was a group with high-normal or the earliest stages of hypertension, not a group with more significant disease. It’s possible that in a population with much worse hypertension there may be even more profound improvement in blood pressure.

Incorporating olive oil into your daily diet appears to be a low-risk way to help lower blood pressure and improve vascular health.

“People with high blood pressure, diabetes- those are conditions brought about by lifestyle. If you change the life style, the conditions will leave.”–  Dick Gregory

(Source- American Journal of Hypertension, Volume 25 Number 12, December 2012)

This blog is a review of published and scientific literature, and should only be used for informational purposes. It does not constitute medical or health advice, nor does it create a physician-patient relationship with anyone.

 

Blueberry Juice May Lower Blood Pressure

July 8th is National Blueberry Day, and out of respect for this tasty fruit today’s post will review a study which examined the effects of wild blueberry juice in a group of adult women at high risk for diabetes mellitus type 2.

Both wild and cultivated blueberries are native to North America. Depending on altitude, latitude and weather the peak of the blueberry crop can vary from May to August. In the US there are many blueberry festivals which celebrate this delicious fruit. In places like Bethlehem PA, Burgaw NC and South Haven MI, among many others, blueberry lovers gather to celebrate.

The skins of the blueberries contain anthocyanins, which have anti-oxidant properties. Wild blueberries have one of the highest levels of anti-oxidants among fruits and vegetables. In the U.S., Maine is the largest producer of lowbush or wild blueberries, and produces over 100 million pounds annually.

A group from Canada and the U.S. performed a study examining the effects of wild blueberry juice on various cardiometabolic markers. The study population had at least two risk factors for type 2 diabetes, and thus were higher risk.

The study design was a randomized trial, with a placebo control. The subjects drank 240 ml of juice made from lowbush (wild) blueberries, while the control group drank a placebo beverage which was color and flavor matched to the blueberry juice. The blueberries were harvested from Prince Edward Island, Canada. Participants drank the blueberry juice daily for a week, followed by an eight day washout period. Following that workout period, the study group became the control group and vice versa.

Several cardiometabolic markers were monitored during the course of the study, such as serum cholesterol, HDL, LDL, triglycerides, glucose, endothelial function, c-reactive protein, serum amyloid, among others. Vital signs included blood pressure were also monitored.

19 participants, all women, completed the study. The researchers discovered that while the wild blueberry juice did not significantly change cardiometabolic markers, it did lower systolic blood pressure 4.8 mm Hg (4%) compared to the placebo group. While a 4.8 mm Hg reduction in systolic blood pressure may not sound substantial, it is estimated that a reduction of only 3 mm Hg may reduce mortality from heart disease and stroke by 5-8%. 

Drinking the blueberry juice for only 7 days was probably not long enough to effect any significant change on metabolic markers. A longer study seems reasonable given the promising results of this study. This does appear to be a low-risk way to improve one’s health. 

“The smallest seed of faith is better than the largest fruit of happiness.”– Henry David Thoreau

(Source- BMC Nutrition 2017 3:45)

This blog is a review of published medical and scientific literature, and should only be used for informational purposes. It does not constitute medical or health advice, nor does it create a physician-patient relationship with anyone. Discuss any health concerns with your personal physician.

 

 

 

Blueberries and Metabolic Syndrome

July 8th is designated National Blueberry Day, and in recognition of this delicious fruit today’s post will examine a study just published in June on the effect of blueberry consumption on cardiovascular risk factors.

The US is the world’s largest producer of blueberries, producing more that twice the tonnage of blueberries annually than the 2nd largest producer, Canada. The largest blueberry producing state is Washington, followed by Georgia, Michigan and Oregon. Low bush or wild blueberries, and high bush or cultivated blueberries, are all native to North America. Many of the beneficial properties of blueberries are thought to be due to their anthocyanins. Anthocyanins are water-soluble pigments which may appear black, blue, purple or red. Plants rich in anthocyanins include black rice, blueberries and raspberries. Anthocyanins have anti-oxidant properties.

A research group from the UK and Harvard looked at the relationship between blueberry consumption and its effect if any on insulin resistance and markers of cardiometabolic function. A random controlled double blind study was performed, with 138 enrollees, randomly assigned to one of three groups- a group which consumed the dietary equivalent of one cup of fresh blueberries each day, a second group which consumed a dietary equivalent of 1/2 cup of fresh blueberries each day, while the third group consumed a placebo. It is important to note that the study subjects had all been diagnosed with metabolic syndrome and were overweight or obese. The study enrolled both men and women, ages 50-75.

The study lasted six months. The researchers discovered that while metabolic syndrome markers were not significantly changed by blueberry consumption, the group that consumed one cup of blueberries per day did show improvements in HDL (“good cholesterol”), endothelial function, and systemic arterial stiffness. It was estimated that a 13% reduction in future cardiovascular events was possible in the one cup per day group.

This is an important study, with one of the longer study periods (six months) completed to date. The study population had significant health issues, including metabolic syndrome and was older. Although the intervention did not change the insulin resistance numbers, it is possible that the study intervention was simply not long enough.

Metabolic syndrome is a cluster of conditions including elevated blood pressure, excessive fat around the waist, elevated triglyceride levels, and decreased HDL. Individuals with metabolic syndrome are at higher risk for heart attack and stroke, and metabolic syndrome is thought to be a precursor for Diabetes Mellitus Type 2.

Here is a well-designed study showing the benefits of a simple dietary intervention on metabolic syndrome. Next time you are considering something for dessert or a snack, put the cake, cookies and ice cream away and reach for blueberries instead. And buy local if possible, and support our farmers and propagators.

“There are eyes, to be sure, that give no more admission into the man than blueberries.”-    Ralph Waldo Emerson

(Source- American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 2019; 109)

This blog is a review of published medical and scientific literature, and should only be used for informational purposes. It does not constitute medical or health advice, nor does it create a physician-patient relationship with anyone. Discuss any health concerns with your personal physician.

 

Lose Weight and Eat More Fiber to Lower Blood Pressure

May is designated as National High Blood Pressure Education Month, and so today’s post focuses on blood pressure, and how it may be improved via two different lifestyle and dietary modifications.

According to statistics from the CDC, about 75 million Americans have hypertension, which is about one in three adults. Only about have of those with hypertension have it under control. The costs associated with high blood pressure are estimated at $50 billion each year. African-Americans are particularly at risk for hypertension, with about 46% afflicted.

First of all a meta-analysis from researchers in the Netherlands looked at 25 different random controlled trials including over 4800 subjects, examining the effect of weight loss on blood pressure. After pooling the data from these 25 studies, it was determined that a 5 kg weight loss (= 11 pounds) yielded an average 4.4 mm Hg drop in systolic blood pressure, and a 3.6 mm Hg drop in diastolic blood pressure. Weight loss was achieved by physical exercise, calorie restriction, or a combination of both. Larger blood pressure decreases were noted in those subjects who were already taking medicine for high blood pressure.

In addition to weight loss having a beneficial effect on blood pressure, it appears dietary fiber also has benefit. Researchers from Tulane University pooled data from 25 different studies, to examine the effects of dietary fiber on blood pressure. Nearly 1500 subjects were evaluated, with trials from the U.S., Canada, Europe, Australia and India included. The overall effect of dietary fiber on blood pressure was a 1.15 mm Hg drop in systolic blood pressure, and a 1.65 mm Hg drop in diastolic blood pressure. The drops in blood pressure were more significant in those patients with hypertension, with trials greater than or equal to eight weeks in duration, and in trials with fiber intake of 7.2-18.9 gm/day.

Therefore weight reduction and increased dietary fiber intake may be effective ways to help lower blood pressure, particularly in those who are currently diagnosed and being treated for hypertension. While certainly not a replacement for traditional hypertension therapy, losing weight and increasing fiber intake seem like simple lifestyle changes that could yield important benefits.

“One way to get high blood pressure is to go mountain climbing over molehills.”–  Earl Wilson

(Source- Journal of Hypertension, 2005, Vol 23 No. 3.  Hypertension, November 2003)

This blog is a review of published medical and scientific literature, and should only be used for informational purposes. It does not constitute medical or health advice, nor does it create a physician-patient relationship with anyone. Discuss any health concerns with your personal physician.

Good Oral Hygiene May Prevent High Blood Pressure

In recognition of World Oral Health Day on March 20th today’s post will examine the relationship between periodontal disease and prehypertension, as well as hypertension.

According to statistics from the CDC, more than 25% of the adults in the U.S. have untreated tooth decay. In addition, almost half of U.S. adults have some signs of gum disease. Periodontitis is defined as the inflammation of the gums and support structures of the teeth. It is caused by certain bacteria, and in turn these bacteria cause inflammation. It is thought that perhaps if this inflammatory state becomes chronic, it may have implications for inflammation elsewhere in the body, such as in cardiovascular health.

A research group in Japan performed a prospective cohort study on a group of university students, examining whether periodontal disease was related to the development of prehypertension, or to hypertension. Over 2500 students enrolled in the study, ages 18-27 years.

Dentists assessed the oral health of each student. Periodontal health was evaluated using the Community Periodontal Index (CPI), which is commonly used to measure periodontal disease. The CPI is an objective measure of periodontal health, and also suggests the proper treatment for the given CPI score. In addition to the CPI, the dentists also measured the Bleeding Upon Probing (BOP), which is felt to be a simple way to assess inflammation. While dentists assessed oral health, the resting blood pressure and body mass index of the subjects was also measured. The participants also completed a questionnaire, which assessed both dental and general health measures.

The Japanese university students were followed over a period of three years. What the researchers discovered was that the risk of developing hypertension over the three years was significantly associated with periodontal disease.

Given the results of this study, consider practicing good oral health as a way to lower your risk for developing high blood pressure. And don’t forget to thank your dentists and hygienists on World Oral Health Day, or the next time you see them.

“I told my dentist my teeth are going yellow, he told me to wear a brown tie.” – Rodney Dangerfield

(Source- American Journal of Hypertension, March 2016)

This blog is a review of published medical and scientific literature, and should only be used for informational purposes. It does not constitute medical or health advice, nor does it create a physician-patient relationship with anyone. Discuss any health concerns with your personal physician.

 

Sauna Lowers Risk of High Blood Pressure

This is the second post in recognition of Helsinki Sauna Day, which is March 9th. In this post we will examine research regarding sauna bathing and subsequent development of hypertension.

Sauna is a part of life in Finland, and an important element in Finnish culture. Saunas go back at least 2000 years, and perhaps even much longer. The first saunas were simply dug into embankments, and later free-standing log structures were developed. There are more saunas than cars in FInland.

A prospective cohort study was completed as part of the Kuopio Ischemic Heart Disease Study, this was the same study group that was discussed in our last post. The sample size included over 1600 men, ages from 42 to 60 years. It is important to note that these men did not have high blood pressure at baseline.

The subjects were enrolled in the study between 1984 to 1989. Information such as smoking habits, body mass index, serum creatinine (kidney function), glucose and cholesterol were collected. Sauna bathing habits were assessed via a self-administered questionnaire. The median age was 52.9 years. The average duration of a single sauna session was 14.4 minutes.

The mean time of follow-up was 22 years. During this time, subjects were monitored for the development of hypertension. The researchers discovered that the higher frequency of sauna bathing was independently associated with a lower risk of the development of high blood pressure, in a dose-response manner.

This is an important study- none of the subjects had hypertension when they enrolled into the study. Also, the more sauna sessions a participant had each week, the lower the risk of developing hypertension.

While this study shows impressive results in an all-male study, it should be repeated in a population of female participants to see if the results would still apply. Also, it would be interesting to see if the results would apply in a more diverse population, such as we have in the United States. In any case, taking a sauna bath certainly seems like a low risk endeavour that could potentially lead to the prevention of high blood pressure.

“Build the sauna, then the house.”–  Finnish Saying

(Source- American Journal of Hypertension 30(11), November 2017)

This blog is a review of published medical and scientific literature, and should only be used for informational purposes. It does not constitute medical or health advice, nor does it create a physician-patient relationship with anyone. Discuss any health concerns with your personal physician.

 

More Reasons to Eat Blueberries- Part Two

Bluberries1

Metabolic syndrome is a growing problem, not only in the U.S., but worldwide. Some of the components of metabolic syndrome include increased abdominal fat, high blood pressure, high triglycerides associated with low HDL (“good cholesterol”), and impaired glucose tolerance. Some of you may be familiar with the term “insulin resistance” in the context of metabolic syndrome.

As metabolic syndrome may be a precursor to the development of diabetes there is considerable on-going research on this topic. A study performed at the University of Oklahoma and Oklahoma State University examined the effect of blueberry intake on obese men and women with metabolic syndrome. In particular, cardiovascular risk factors were examined.

Forty-eight participants were randomized to either a blueberry group or control group. Those in the blueberry group consumed a freeze-dried blueberry beverage twice a day, while the control group drank an equivalent amount of water.

Over the eight week course of the study the blood pressure in the blueberry group dropped 6% (systolic) and 4% (diastolic). Biomarkers of oxidative stress were also decreased in the blueberry group. Oxidized LDL dropped 28%, while combined serum malondialdehyde and hydroxynonenal concentrations dropped 17%. Both the decreases in blood pressure and oxidative stress biomarkers were substantially larger in the blueberry group than the control (water) group.

Interestingly this study shows a similar drop in blood pressure to the blueberry study we previously reviewed. This is simply more evidence of the beneficial effects of blueberries on cardiovascular health, in a particularly high-risk population.

This blog is a review of medical and scientific literature, and should only be used for informational purposes. It does not constitute medical or health advice, nor does it create a physician-patient relationship with anyone. Discuss any health concerns with your personal physician.

(Source- The Journal of Nutrition, July 21, 2010)

Blood Pressure Creeping Up? Think Blue(berries)

“When any lagged behind, the cry of “blueberries” was most effectual to bring them up.”
Henry David Thoreau

Bluberries1Blueberry

July is National Blueberries Month and in honor of this delectable fruit today’s post will examine research on the health benefits of blueberries.

Recent research indicates that daily consumption of blueberry powder lowered both blood pressure and arterial stiffness in a group of post-menopausal women, who were either in pre-hypertension or the earliest stages of hypertension. A research group primarily from Florida State University followed 48 women through the 8 week study. Women were allocated to a blueberry powder group (equivalent to one cup of fresh blueberries per day) or a placebo powder group.

Subjects in both groups were asked to continue their usual diet and exercise regimens (or lack thereof). After 8 weeks of daily blueberry powder the women were found to have a mean reduction of 5.1% in systolic blood pressure, and 6.3% in diastolic blood pressure, while the placebo powder group had no change.

What’s important about this study is that it shows the potential benefits of a simple dietary intervention, eating blueberries, on lowering blood pressure. It would be interesting to know if eating actual blueberries rather than the powder, would offer more blood pressure benefit, or whether eating more than just a cup of blueberries would offer additional benefit. Also, is this blood pressure lowering effect of blueberries extended to the general population?

(Source: Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, March 2015, Volume 115, Number 3)

This blog is a review of medical and scientific literature, and should only be used for informational purposes. It does not constitute medical or health advice, nor does it create a physician-patient relationship with anyone. Discuss any health concerns with your personal physician.